Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins appears to be selling off its early shares in controversial energy storage startup EEStor. ZENN Motors, which is an EEStor investor and formerly made electric cars, announced late last week that it’s come to an agreement to buy up the Series A EEStor shares from KPCB Holdings (Kleiner Perkins) as well as other early investors like one named as Longshot Holdings.
ZENN plans to buy 502,344 Series A EEStor shares for $2 million plus 3 million common stock ZENN shares. ZENN plans to raise $3.5 million to fund the purchase. If this deal closes ZENN says it will hold about 41 percent of the outstanding equity and voting shares of EEStor. ZENN’s future was already tightly aligned with EEStor’s future.
The real question is will those EEStor shares ever be worth anything? To Kleiner Perkins, the answer seems to be a no — or at least they’re not willing to wait any longer to see.
Kleiner has always distanced itself from the early investment, reportedly in 2005, in EEStor, keeping the company off of its website and rarely answering questions about the investment. Kleiner’s Bill Joy talked about the company during a public forum a few years back, but Joy (along with Ray Lane) will not be leading new investments for Kleiner’s new fund.
Kleiner’s greentech investments have mostly been disappointing, though some have managed to do alright, like Silver Spring Networks, Opower and Nest. But others, like Fisker Automotive, have been high profile problems. Getting out of EEStor is probably another way for Kleiner to mitigate some of its more high risk greentech investments that might prove problems in the future.
We haven’t covered EEStor in awhile because the company has long over-promised and under delivered on all of its technology goals. EEStor has been trying to commercialize a supercapacitor that can provide 10 times the energy of lead-acid batteries at one-tenth the weight and half the price. Such a supercapacitor could theoretically help solve the problem of expensive and short range batteries for electric cars.